restricted access The Weremother
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8 8 8 8 8 Often in that period in her life, when she least expected it, she would feel the change creeping over her. It would start in the middle of an intense conversation with her younger son or with her daughter, behind whose newly finished face she saw her past and intimations of her future flickering silently, waiting to break cover. Black hairs would begin creeping down the backs of her hands and claws would spring from her fingertips. She could feel her lip lifting over her incisors as she snarled: “Can’t you remember anything?” or: “Stop picking your face.” She had to concentrate on standing erect then, determined to defeat her own worst instincts just once more, but she knew it was only a matter of time before she fell into the feral crouch. In spite of her best efforts she would end up loping on all fours, slinking through alleys and stretching her long belly as she slid over fences; she would find herself hammering on her older son’s window, or deviling him on the phone: Yes we are adults together, we are even friends, but do you look decent for the office? Even when he faced her without guile, as he would any ordinary person, she could feel the howl bubbling in her throat: Did you remember to use your face medicine? Beware, she is never far from us; she will stalk us to the death, wreaking her will and spoiling our best moments, threatening our future, devouring our past. Beware the weremother when the moon is high and you and the one you love are sinking to earth; look sharp or she will spring upon you; she will tear you apart to save you if she has to, bloodying tooth and claw in the inadvertency of love. Lash me to the closet pole she cried, knowing what was coming, but she was thinking what might happen to the older son if he married the wrong girl, whom he is in love with. Who would iron his shirts? Would she know how to take care of him? It’s his decision now; he’s a grown man and we are adults together, but I am his mother, and older. I have a longer past than he does and can divine the future. This is for your own good. The Weremother 296 k i t r e e d She and the man she married were at a party years before they even had children . Someone introduced the identity game. Tell who you are in three sentences . After you finished, the woman who started the game diagnosed you. She said you valued what you put first. Somebody began, My name is Martha , I’m a mother. She remembers looking at that alien woman, thinking, A mother? Is that all you want to be? What does that make of the man sitting next to you? She thinks: I know who I am. I know my marriage. I know my ambitions. I am those three things and by the way I am a mother. I would never list it first in this or any other game. On the other hand, she can’t shake the identity. Here is an old story she hates. It is called The Mother’s Heart. The cherished only son fell into debt and murdered his adoring mother for her money. He had been ordered to tear out her heart and take it to his debtors as proof. On the way he fell. Rolling out of the basket, the heart cried: “Are you hurt, my son?” Damn fool. Nobody wanted that. Not him, not her. As a child she had always hated little girls who told everybody they wanted to grow up to be mothers. She goes to visit her own mother, who may get sick at any moment and need care for the rest of her life. She comes into the tiny apartment in a combined guilt and love that render her speechless. On these visits she slips helplessly into childhood, her mind seething with unspoken complexities while her lips shape the expected speeches. What was it like for you? “How are you feeling?” Did you and he enjoy it and how did you keep that a secret? “That’s too bad. Your African violets look wonderful.” Why won’t you ever give me a straight answer? “Do you really want Kitty up there with the plants? I wish you’d...


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